There are so many kinds of herbs and they all impart their own unique flavor. Some herbs, like basil and tarragon, add a sweet mellowness to summer’s bounty of tomatoes and squash. Others are pungent, giving foods a new dimension: lemongrass, for instance, is bold and slightly sharp, complementing some fish and soups. Many herbs can play together, like chervil and parsley, or marjoram and rosemary. Your taste buds can be your guide.
Herbs are easy to find, but you can just as easily grow them, even if all you have to spare is a window sill! If you have an outdoor garden it is best to choose a sunny side and plant herbs directly in the ground. If you have a patio or terrace, you can plant herbs in large pots. If you have a sunny window you can grow herbs all year-round. Choose a window that has plenty of sun. Remember to turn the pots every day so that all sides of the plant get sun. Always cut the herbs from above so that new shoots can develop.
The fall, when the plants start to flower, is the time to harvest your herbs. With proper storage you can use them all year. To dry them place them on a cheesecloth in a dark, airy room. My son dries his herbs in his basement not far from the boiler area. When the herbs are dried, strip them from their stem and store in a Tupperware airtight container. They may be kept all winter long.
Freezing is also an excellent method to preserve herbs. Wash the herbs if they have earth on them, and dry them in paper towels. Make small bouquets, then wrap individually in plastic wrap and finally, freeze in Tupperware Freezer Mates containers. An alternate method is to chop herbs like basil or marjoram. Take 1 cup of chopped herbs and add ½ cup of water and pour mixture into the Tupperware Ice Tray and freeze. These herbs can be popped out and used for soup, sauces or stews during the winter months or any time of the year.
You can also use herbs to flavor your favorite olive oil or vinegar. Crush about ½ cup of your favorite herb and add to a liter of olive oil. Close the bottle and leave it on the kitchen counter for two weeks. Use it for cooking. You may add sprigs of dill or tarragon to a bottle of vinegar, along with 1 or 2 crushed garlic cloves.
Dried herbs are stronger than fresh. So, remember if a recipe calls for fresh herbs and you have to use dried, use 1/3 less. Practice and you will surely become an expert at it! Enjoy!
What Goes with What:
For soups: basil, bay leaf, chervil, chives, parsley, sage, coriander
For breads: dill, fennel, savory, thyme
For fish: basil, bay leaf, rosemary, sage, thyme
For eggs: tarragon, chervil, chives, parsley, thyne
For poultry: bay leaf, marjoram, thyme, sage, rosemary, tarragon
For lamb: mint, rosemary, thyme, marjoram, sage
For beef: tarragon, thyme, rosemary, sage
For vegetables and salads: basil, thyme, tarragon, parsley, chervil, mint
Whether you want to go “fleischig” or ”Pareve”, you will find both of these recipes quick and easy to prepare!